The second half for the Kansas City Royals is looking very similar to their first—trouble getting timely hits, lack of quality pitching, and an overused bullpen. The Royals are currently in last place in the American League Central and will be battling the Detroit Tigers to stay out of the cellar. They are on pace to lose 107 games, which would be their worst in franchise history.
Were Ready to Contend
This was the year the team was going to get back to decency. They were ready to contend. The front office felt their overhaul was over. With their blend of veterans and young players, the Royals were on the tip of contending for a Wild Card spot. Their top pitching prospects appeared to be ready to establish themselves at the major league level and the hype surrounding top prospect Bobby Witt, Jr., was positive. The front office thought they were on their way.
Instead, the Royals have been disastrous in virtually every way, especially with their pitching. Their starters have the worst ERA in the AL at over five runs a game. They are in the bottom five in quality starts and last in issuing walks and giving up home runs. All of this while using 23 different pitchers.
The bullpen has not done much better. They are already taxed and do not have much consistency. They are in the bottom five in hits, home runs, and walks. Team ERA after the seventh inning is 5.35, which is also in the bottom five.
Hitting Is Woeful
The hitting is woeful. The Royals have been shutout ten times—the most of any team. They are in the bottom five of baseball in runs, home runs, and RBI. Overall team batting is .248. They fired hitting coach Terry Bradshaw and promoted Alex Zumwalt back in the middle of May hoping that would help. So far, there have been no dramatic changes in their hitting.
Changes Are Needed
The second half for the Kansas City Royals is definitely going to be challenging. Everyone involved in the Royals organization—and their fans—knows that changes are needed. The trade deadline is quickly approaching. However, outside of Andrew Benintendi, there isn’t much they can sell at the deadline. Last year’s Gold Glove winner in left field is really the only hitter having a good season. Despite batting over .310 and being a great teammate and clubhouse guy, there is an issue with Benintendi. He is not vaccinated against COVID-19 and would not be able to travel to Canada. That will be a cause for concern for teams—especially teams contending in the AL East. Certainly, the Toronto Blue Jays will not make a move for him.
Pitcher Zack Greinke is a bright spot, but the front office has said he is not going anywhere. Although Salvador Perez is not having the season he expected it would be a surprise if the Royals dealt him. First, his salary would be a challenge for a team to take on; second, he is a player the Royals want to build around. Another concern with Perez is that he’s been injured.
Michael A. Taylor and Whit Merrifield are trade possibilities, but neither player would get much in return. However, with so many teams in the Wild Card chase in both leagues you never know, maybe one could score something big depending on circumstances.
The second half for the Kansas City Royals should see them letting some of the younger players get some MLB seasoning. Their farm system has been ranked as high as number seven and they have a handful of players that could be called up. Allowing some of those players to gain MLB-level experience not only allows coaches to see how they handle themselves but can only help the players improve.
First baseman Vinnie Pasquantino, their top overall prospect, has already been called up. He’s been with the big-league team since June when the Royals traded Carlos Santana. Number two prospect Nick Pratto, another first baseman, was called up last week. He is another player with homerun-hitting potential. Both these players can play first base and/or DH. Let them finish the season with the big-league club.
Royals Second Half Outlook
The second half for the Kansas City Royals is not going to be pleasant for the team and the fans. Unless they get really good fast and the teams ahead of them fall apart, they’re going to be in the bottom of their division. Without players to trade to shore up their current deficiencies, their best bet is to look to the future.
They need to showcase their young talent and get the fans excited about next season and the future of the team. Who knows, if the onus to make the playoff is off their shoulders, the players may relax and start playing better.